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The Full Monty at Lyceum Theatre Sheffield
2nd-22nd February 2013
Reviewed by John Murphy
Sexy things. Photo: Tristram Kenton
16 years ago, an unlikely cultural phenomenon was born. A low-budget, independent film about unemployed steelworkers in Sheffield who turn to stripping suddenly became one of the biggest British films of all time. BAFTAs and Oscars followed, and there was even a Broadway musical produced, though one which saw the story relocated from the North of England to Buffalo, New York, to writer Simon Beaufoy’s evident dismay.
For this timely return, The Full Monty has been brought home to South Yorkshire, in a brand new production also written by Beaufoy. Premiering in Sheffield before embarking on a tour of the country, Daniel Evans directs and the production has the makings of a major hit – indeed, every single performance in Sheffield sold out before a single review was published.
Though this is new version, the mid-80s setting remains, as does the Sheffield backdrop, but the digs at Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative government feel perhaps even more relevant as they did over a decade ago, especially in a city which has been so scarred by yet another recession.
But for all its political charge and not inconsiderable anger, what makes The Full Monty such a winning thing is its sense of warmth and heart. The characters are all strongly written. Kenny Doughty has the unenviable task of trying to fill Robert Carlyle’s shoes as Gaz, the everyman figure who first comes up with the idea of stripping off. Doughty brings a cocky yet vulnerable charm to the role, and his warm performance is nicely matched by Roger Morlidge as his best friend Dave, who is struggling with weight issues and marriage problems as well as with unemployment.
There are some fine supporting performances from Kieran O’Brien, who gets to make a show-stopping entrance, and a lovely nuanced turn from Craig Gazey as the suicidal security guard Lomper, who draws the lion’s share of laughs with his winsomely camp delivery.
The city of Sheffield itself is also a character here, as represented by Robet Jones’ impressive design, a dark derelict steel mill, which during the course of the show is transformed into a working men’s club, a Job Centre and the interior of the local Conservative Club; while the location changes the shadow of the steel mill – and all it represents – is ever present.
Despite what some of the more excitable audience members appear to think, The Full Monty is about much more than a gang of men taking their clothes off. Both film and play make incisive comments about class (both in and out of the workplace), homosexuality - the discussion between Guy and Lomper is amongst the play’s most touching moments – and the pride of the working man. It’s this sense of pride which is brilliantly personified in Simon Rouse’s dignified, betrayed Gerald, a man whose job is so central to his sense of himself he can’t even bring himself to tell his own wife that he’s been made redundant.
Evans’ production successfully balances these bleak undercurrents with plenty of feel-good moments. The iconic dance in the Job Centre is still here (and greeted with whoops and cheers), as is Dave and Gaz’s gnome-assisted sabotage of Gerald’s job interview, and the Flashdance tuition sequence. Yet this production does not merely trot through the film’s key scenes, it does much more than that; Evans and Beaufoy have injected a freshness and vitality into their production while still retaining a sense of the familiar.
As with the film, the play builds towards the infamous climatic scene from which it takes its name; in staging this, Evans breaks the fourth wall, turning the entire theatre into a working men’s club, and inviting the audience into the world of the play to cheer on the characters. It would be a spoiler too far to reveal how Evans actually recreates that ‘Full Monty’ moment, but safe to say it’s brilliantly done. Never has a standing ovation felt so well deserved.
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Interview with short filmmaker Greg Ash
By Julija Kaselyte 2 August 2012 / 0 Comments
British filmmaker Greg Ash with eight short films under his belt has been always creating: writing, taking photographs, and, most importantly, making films.
Recently he went overseas to present his brand new comedy “Fired!” starring James Hillier and Kieran O’Brien. It’s about a Dad who is fired by his seven year old son, in a world where parents can be replaced. I got in touch with Greg right after the exclusive Fired! premiere in LA and spoke about the project.
Fired! Short Film Trailer
Julija: What did you want to convey in this film?
Greg: As well as entertaining people and hopefully making them laugh, I also like to get them thinking. I therefore prefer to leave audiences to take what they want from my films. However, when I was writing “Fired!” I was inspired to explore the freedom of choice we have in the modern world. We live in an era when reality television can cause us to treat relationships like a popularity contest, and I was interested in transposing this flippancy into family life. We have a boy who fires his Dad and replaces him with a “better” model, but as he comes to realise, unlimited choice is not necessarily a good thing.
Julija: How did you decide that Fired! had to be a comedy?
Greg: I’m naturally drawn to comedy as I think it’s an effective way of exploring the gap between illusion and reality. There are certainly dark undertones to Fired! and it could probably be a much more savage film. However, overall I wanted to convey a positive message. I think there is already enough suffering in the world, and that comedy can be a subtle way of inspiring people to make positive changes.
Julija: How many days did it take to shoot the film?
Greg: We filmed “Fired!” over 4 days in South London.
Julija: In what ways is it different from your previous films?
Greg: “Fired!” is more light hearted than my previous short “Mr. Mzuza”, and I think appeals to a broader audience from young kids to grandparents. Technically it was more ambitious, with a larger budget, bigger crew and more equipment, and I therefore hope the result is a more accomplished, bolder piece. I’m also happy to have included some great music from Portland band “The Shivas”, which really ties the film together. Overall, I wanted to make something that seemed at times surreal and stylized, but at others mundane and down to earth. It plays like a strange combination of family comedy, western and satire, which is a hopefully unique combination.
Julija: Are you satisfied with the result?
Greg: Filmmaking is a process of constant development, so it is sometimes difficult to be completely satisfied in hindsight, but overall I believe “Fired!” is the close to the best version of that story I could have made. I put a hundreds of hours of work and all my energy into it, and that’s all I can hope to do. It’s already been well received at screenings, and was just nominated for Best Foreign Short at the LA Comedy Festival. I really hope that the passion and efforts of everyone involved have resulted in a film that people can enjoy and be touched by.
Julija: What’s next for you?
Greg: I am currently directing and acting in a US comedy series called ‘Super Chill’ (superchill.tv) and writing my debut feature film ‘Bigfootville’. My latest short film ‘Mr. Invisible’, starring Julian Glover and Omid Dijalili, will be screening at festivals throughout this year.
Find out more about Greg Ash
Drop everything for The Full Monty at The Lowry
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Craig Gazey does The Full Monty
Craig Gazey, who played Graeme Proctor in Coronation Street, is to star in the world stage premiere of the Full Monty when it starts in Bristol.
Craig will be playing the part of Lomper, which ex-Corrie actor Steve Huison (Eddie Windass) played in the film.
Producers will be trying to recapture the success of the smash-hit 1997 comedy film about six out-of-work Sheffield steel workers who became male strippers to make ends meet, which took £160 million worldwide to make it one of the most successful British films ever made.
It will star Kenny Doughty, from Sky TV’s Stella, as Gaz, former Coronation Street actor Craig Gazey, as Lomper, Simon Rouse, best known for his portrayal of DCI Jack Meadows in The Bill, as Gerald, as well as Kieran O’Brien and Roger Morlidge, who have appeared in Coronation Street, as Guy and Dave, and Sidney Cole, of Class Act, as Horse.
It will be a first work for the theatre for writer Simon Beaufoy, whose screen credits include The Full Monty, 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire, for which he won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA award.
For tickets call 0844 871 3012.
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Full casting announced for the world premiere of ‘The Full Monty’
The full cast is announced today for The Full Monty which is coming to the Festival Theatre from Mon 25 to Sat 30 March 2013.
Simon Beaufoy, the Oscar winning writer of the film, has now gone back to Sheffield where it all started to rediscover the men, the women, the heartache and the hilarity of a city on the dole.
Kenny Doughty (Sean in Sky TV’s Stella) is Gaz; Craig Gazey (winner of the National TV Award for Graeme Proctor in Coronation Street) is Lumper; Simon Rouse (DCI Jack Meadows in The Bill, a role he played for almost 20 years) is Gerald; Kieran O’Brien (Matt in Michael Winterbottom’s infamous film Nine Songs) is Guy; Roger Morlidge (The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love) is Dave and Sidney Cole (Macduff in Macbeth directed by Max Stafford Clarke, Absolutely Fabulous ) is Horse.
Scott Anson, Tracy Brabin, Caroline Carver, Eamonn Fleming, Elaine Glover, Rachel Lumberg and Ian Mercer complete the cast.
The production will also feature the iconic songs from the film by Donna Summer, Rod Stewart, Hot Chocolate and Tom Jones.
This will be Simon Beaufoy’s first work for the theatre. His screen credits include winning the BAFTA for The Full Monty, 127 Hours, Salmon Fishing in Yemen and Slumdog Millionaire.
The Full Monty is directed by Sheffield Theatre’s Artistic Director Daniel Evans. Since taking up the post, it has been one of his ambitions to bring The Full Monty back home to Sheffield.
Design is by Robert Jones, whose recent credits include Calendar Girls, Much Ado About Nothingstarring Catherine Tate and David Tennant, Hamlet (Royal Shakespeare Company) andRock’n’Roll (Royal Court, West End and Broadway).
Choreography is by Steven Hoggett (Black Watch), lighting by Tim Lutkin, sound by Ben andMax Ringham with casting by Sarah Bird.
This Sheffield Theatres production is presented by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers, the multi-award winning producers of ‘Art’, Brief Encounter, God of Carnage and Calendar Girls.